Wednesday, February 07, 2007

to pooh pooh indoors

i have made it a habit to sit with my back to any city or town i happen to be visiting in turkey. well, of course exceptions occur. back street coffee shops in ayvalık for instance still bring whiffs of ottoman life when together with lesbos and izmir, the town used to be the hub of inndustrial trade in the aegean. in istanbul, i like to watch the historic constantinopolis or kostantiniyya, the palace and the mosques, never failing to admire the majesty of hagia sophia. in ankara, only at night, when the concrete eyesore ghost town is smothered by lights, do i look out the window. here, in bodrum i turn southward always, toward the sea and the hills, also taking the famous castle into the margins of my sight.

the rest is ugly behind the most evil imagination. indeed, as i commented recently, anything touched by human hands looks incredibly hideous. there is no architecture to speak of , an array of distinct and identifying styles of building, that marks the space interpretation of a culture, because there exists no culture to speak of. instead, the towns are replete with the ravings of various so called architects that horrendously mismatch each other, resulting in an æsthetic disaster that is the visual equivalent of cacophony and also exhausting to the senses.

turkey is the victim of terrible bad taste. and there is no foreign power, no capitalist-imperialist conspiracy or non-secular islamist threat to blame this one on. it is plain, unmitigated, epidemic lack of taste. turks love the ugly!

why else would anyone complement 100 year old specimens of popular masonry with rectangular blocks of cinderblock, whitewash them and turn a historical stone house into something a cow would turn its nose at if it were used as her shed?

we turned bodrum into pooh pooh only because bodrumers wanted to pooh pooh under their roofs! the only way they could conceive, with the aid of raving architects, of moving outhouses indoors was to completely tear down centuries-old architecture and chop the trees.

istanbul's demise is not worth a comment. there will always be hordes of barbarians, some of whom these days carry shiny diplomas from prestigious american universities. that is why a 3000 year old city is beginning to look like a desert village in the u.s.